Senators Seek Compromise on Amendments Before Yemen Debate


Khashoggi, a USA resident who wrote for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Six senior United States senators from across party lines have introduced a resolution holding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) personally accountable for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The worldwide community seems to doubt Saudi Arabia's commitment to prosecute this heinous crime", the official said, adding that by extraditing all suspects to Turkey, "Saudi authorities could address those concerns".

A Saudi prosecutor charged 11 government officials in October for alleged involvement, some whom could face the death penalty if found guilty.

That vote came after an all-senators briefing with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, which was widely criticized by both parties on account of Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel's conspicuous absence. The Senate is expected to vote next week on the Yemen resolution, but senators are wrestling with how to limit amendments to prevent a freewheeling floor debate that would allow votes on unrelated issues.

"Somebody should be punished, but the question is: How do you separate the Saudi crown prince from the nation itself?"

Murphy, D-Conn., on MSNBC's "Morning Joe", said the two officials had been placed "in a bad spot", during the all-senators briefing by President Donald Trump's "maybe he did, maybe he didn't" position on whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder.

The diplomat returned to Riyadh in early October shortly after the killing of the dissident Saudi journalist at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

The clear and biting assessment put Republican senators at odds with the White House, which has steadfastly refused to cast blame on Saudi Arabia's leadership for the death of Khashoggi, a USA resident and Washington Post columnist.

"Maybe he did and maybe he didn't", Trump said last month about whether the crown prince had known about the murder.

"And a strong Senate vote of disapproval would make them realize that they can't take for granted that they will get whatever they want up here [on Capitol Hill]".

"If he (bin Salman) was in front of a jury he would be convicted in 30 minutes", said Bob Corker, another Republican senator but a Trump critic. "I'm not going to blow past this", he said.

Durbin joined Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer in calling for a full-Senate briefing from Haspel.

Haspel herself did not respond to CNN's questions as she left the briefing about whether it would satisfy senators' concerns.

He said that Saudi Arabia disrespected its relationship with the United States and needs to fix it.

"Every senator should hear what I heard this afternoon", Durbin said.

He also said he expected a vote in the Senate next week on a war powers resolution to stop USA support for the war in Yemen, which has produced one of the world's worst humanitarian disasters.